Saturday, November 29, 2014


For the benefit of the non-Cricket watching/playing/casual fans amongst you, this has been a very sad week.  One of our brightest young batsmen, a man who was poised to re-take his place in the Australian team, has died following an on-field injury. 

The public outpouring has been in many ways unsurprising.  Australians love their Cricket and venerate their favourite players... in High Schools around Australia, members of the Australian team have their fangirls... I taught a few in my time as a Modern History Teacher.  

The team gets to meet the Queen, they play for the PM, they travel to far-flung corners of the globe and play in the most inhospitable climates imaginable (Madras Test 1986 anyone?)... One might almost say that Mad Dogs and Cricketers go out in the midday sun... 

But this death, and my own reaction to it, has me more than a little puzzled.  This man was not one I had ever met.  I had seen him play on TV but not in person... He wasn't one I had watched with particular attention, except to notice that he was good, but kept getting dropped from the side.  He wasn't someone I had ever met, or ever expected to meet in the future.

So why then, am I so upset by it?  Reading all the articles about the accident, watching all the interviews, favouriting tweets by other famous players who did know him...? Tearing up over tributes by Richie Benaud and Michael Clarke? 

I don't know really.

I can't say.  

Is it growing awareness of my own mortality? Maybe.  

Is it the shocking thought that I may outlive one or all of my own children? Possibly.  

Is it growing awareness of the inevitability of other grief to come?  Definitely.

This grief we share for the untimely death of Phil Hughes seems to be collective realisation of universal mortality. 


We mourn the ending of our own lives.  

Our own youths.  

Our own days of playing Cricket in the park with friends...or surfing at the beach with friends...or playing footy in the playground with friends... or playing... or ... or... or...

The end of  our age of innocence, our age of play and fun, the end of our seemingly endless summer holidays punctuated with the voices of Tony Greig, Richie Benaud, Bill Lawry and Ian Chappell.

Tony's voice is forever silenced.  Bill's heard more rarely.  Chappelli is still a stalwart of the commentary team, but Richie? 

Richie is old.  Old and sick.  Old and sick and injured.  We hear his much beloved voice less and less as time goes on.  It will be a sad day indeed when his voice is forever silenced.  Cricket will be without its Grandfather. Its Elder Statesman.  

In a sense, the idea of losing Richie (inevitable though it may be) is too hard to fathom.  The idea of that national grief is too scary, too much like losing a member of our own family.  So we embrace the grief of losing someone we barely knew.  Someone we liked but didn't venerate or revere in anywhere near the same way in which we do Richie.  Someone who may very well have had a long and illustrious career wearing the baggy green, even in front of the camera as a commentator... but whose future was cut short.  

At the moment, we have a future.  A future in which we can still play Cricket with our friends at the park... surf at the beach... play with our footy... play... ... ... 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sleeping like a... baby?

So Mr Silas is six months old as of yesterday.  He is a truly lovely little boy... very affectionate and happy.  He is eating real food and drinking my milk like the others did.  He laughs when you play round-and-round-the-garden on his tummy like the others.

And just like the others, he is awakening my parental obsession: baby sleep (which of course morphs into toddler sleep as they get older).  Once again the quality of my day is becoming about how well he sleeps...or as in the case of this afternoon, doesn't sleep... Once again I am wracked with anxiety around whether he is getting enough sleep and guilt that I cannot just 'clear the decks' (like I could when Bede was little) and stay home to get him back into routine, or to let him recover from a particularly busy couple of days...

Today was the second big day in a row... the morning was fine... he woke up late after a night which included an extra feed... he slept on the way to our new church and was good during the service...he slept in the carrier on me for a while, had some lunch and stayed awake in the car... we thought we would put him down for a nap then given that he had been awake for almost three hours by then... but all our efforts were to no avail... the window of sleep had shut, and he got progressively more and more overtired...and less and less likely to just drop off... and more and more grumpy.  In the end, he was so over tired that dinner was a non-event (meaning that he screamed so much he wouldn't eat anything)... the usual calmer downer of the bath didn't work (he screamed through his almost unheard of occurrence)...and was asleep for the night by 6.15... an hour earlier than usual...

This reminds me why I am so protective of my kid's sleep... lack of it can derail a perfectly nice Sunday afternoon, and a perfectly happy relaxed mood... but it also reminds me that I need to learn  to lighten up a little more... something I thought might have happened by now...three kids later... 

But as Anne Shirley was known to say, "Tomorrow is fresh with no mistakes in it"... or in my skipped naps in it...yet.

Monday, November 10, 2014

"Love and Muddy Puddles", a novel by Cecily Paterson

I remember well the yearnings of my adolescent heart towards enduring popularity.  I remember hanging around the edges of different groups of girls at school desperately hoping to be noticed and accepted.  

I remember with a pang the pain of being dropped from a group that I had been on the edge of for a year or so...the agony of betrayal by a one-time best friend who had to drop me too...for the sake of the group.

It is a rare book that can reach out of it's target demographic and thrust the reader kicking and screaming back into their own painful adolescence. "Love and Muddy Puddles" (LAMP)is such a book.  A book aimed squarely at the Young Adult niche, LAMP took me back to my days of desperation, longing, hoping, disappointment... days of wanting to be popular,wanting to be looked up to, wanting to be recognised for my wit and charm...rather than my shrimpiness and not-pretty-enough-ness... It was in some ways an uncomfortable read because I could see myself in Coco...the maddening always-right-ness of youth... the dismissal of the road less travelled... the certainty of ones' superiority... 

Paterson has the knack of creating true to life characters with believable story-arcs... in some ways LAMP is a tragedy with redemption... in other ways it is the comeuppance of the bitch.  
Either way, Coco is not your run-of-the-mill heroine. She is flawed. But capable of growth and change... it is an existential journey... one that all adolescents will undertake... 

LAMP is a book that your teenaged female reader will like... an astute reader will enjoy LAMP for the generous nods to Austen... and those alone will be a good reason for me to re-read it!

Monday, November 3, 2014

"Too Pretty"...a novel by Andrea Grigg.

I have a confession to make.  I am generally quite wary of Christian novels. You may think this is a strange attitude for someone who has been a Christian for 15 years and counting, and especially for someone who devours every book within reach apparently indiscriminately...

I have my reasons.  I am somewhat of a book snob.  No.  I take that back.  I am a huge book snob. Ask me one day to explain just how much of a book snob I can be.  Suffice it to say, I almost never read Christian novels.  I made an exception in the case of the Left Behind series, but I class that as fantasy which is my go-to genre.

Basically I can't stand cheese.  I cringe when I read of Christian books that are heavy on proof-texting moralism, and unbelievably perfect characters and unbelievably perfect love stories (because of course all Christian novels are romances right?)...

Now having said all that, "Too Pretty" by Andrea Grigg (who I met due to a minor mutual Outlander obsession... you know...the one with Jamie and Claire? but I digress) is NOT like any of those books that I have so far managed to avoid reading in their entirety.

"Too Pretty" is a modern Australian novel which just happens to be Christian.  So none of the stereotypes of American Christianity that we know so well.  It is a novel in which Ellie (the impossibly beautiful, but totally real protagonist) speaks everyday English to normal people. In which truly human struggles are dealt with fairly and realistically.  In which (in short) a modern red-blooded woman makes counter-cultural decisions about relationships in a way that (to a Christian reader) is laudable.

If you want to escape from the modern world, "Too Pretty" may not be your bag... if you want impossibly perfect male romantic main characters then look elsewhere.  One of Griggs' main strengths as a writer is her ability to draw characters that are flawed enough to be real, but not too flawed as to be ladling it on with a trowel... her ability to infuse the story with *just enough* Christianity... enough to leave the reader in no doubt that her characters are Christian, but not so much that the reader is belted about the head with the fact.

This is a book that I will be recommending to Christians who may be young in their faith (both male and female), and also to non-Christians (of any age) who may be interested in Christian literature; as it will challenge both groups to think through their beliefs and their experiences of the Christian faith and Christians they may know or be influenced by.  And yes. I am classing "Too Pretty" as literature. Most definitely worth a read and a discuss with a friend!